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Coronary Angioplasty

Your doctor will talk to you about your heart problem and explain how angioplasty can help. Angioplasty relieves symptoms of coronary artery disease by improving blood flow to your heart.

The balloon compresses the plaque against the artery wall.

The blood flow to the heart muscle increases.

During the Procedure

  • The skin at the insertion site (usually the groin) is numbed with a local anesthetic. A needle puncture is made so the catheter can be inserted. 

  • A guide wire is inserted through the guiding catheter (a thin, flexible tube) and moved to the narrow spot in your artery. Your doctor tracks its movement on an angiogram, a special kind of X-ray.

  • A balloon-tipped catheter is inserted through the guiding catheter and threaded over the guide wire. It is positioned at the narrow part of the artery.

  • The balloon is inflated and deflated several times to compress the plaque against the artery wall. You may feel angina (chest pain) when the balloon is inflated. Tell your doctor if you do.

  • The balloon is deflated and the catheters and guide wire are removed. The artery is now open, and blood flow to the heart muscle increases.

After the Procedure

  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you how long to lie down and keep the insertion site still.

  • If the insertion site was in your groin, you may need to lie down with your leg still for several hours.

  • A nurse will check the insertion site and your blood pressure. Before going home, you may have a chest X-ray and other tests.

  • You usually remain in the hospital for several hours or overnight.

Call Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • You have angina (chest pain).

  • The insertion site has pain, swelling, redness, bleeding, or drainage.

  • You have severe pain, coldness, or a bluish color in the leg or arm that held the catheter.

  • You experience blood in your urine, black or tarry stools, or any other kind of bleeding.

  • You have a fever over 101°F (38.3°C)

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2/20/2014
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